…unless you’re an elected official, and then you have to pronounce in “noo-KYOO-ler”.
I hadn’t set out to make jelly, but that’s often the story of things from my kitchen. I made RedHot Apples for my husband and noticed there was a lot of sweet liquid at the bottom of the pot. While sitting at the table, watching “Bones” on Netflix, sipping coffee, chilling with my man, I was also flipping through Amanda Hesser’s “The Cook and the Gardner”. She has recipes for jams, jellies, and marmalades; also, she breaks things down kindergarten style for simpletons like myself, which is motivating and inspiring.
“Honey,” I announced, “we’re going to make jelly.”
“Now?”…he did not look like this was his first choice for a relaxing evening.
Being the wonderfully supportive and fun-loving guy that is My Husband, he nodded his head, shot-gunned his coffee, and said, “Well. Alright then. Let’s do it.” What follows is our jelly, adapted from Amanda Hesser’s recipes. It tastes like cinnamon Gummi Bears!
**note**this is not a short cut type of recipe. You need to plan on being near your stove all day long. All. Day. Long. Brew a barrel of coffee, babe…get comfy.
Nuclear Cinnamon Apples and (then) Jelly
1 large bag of RedHots candies
10lbs of apples, cubed (not peeled)
4 quarts of water
6 cups sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp each: ground ginger and all spice
1 pkg dry commercial pectin
equipment: hot-water bath canning necessities (pot, tongs, etc), 6 half-pint jars with new lids and rings, thermometer, strainer, funnel, ladle, large heavy-bottomed pot
1) wash and cube apples, leaving the peels on, removing cores. (you can cook the cores and seeds, as they have a lot of pectin, but then you’ll have to fish them out later…) Place apple pieces, sugar, red hots, water, and spices in a large, heavy bottomed cooking pot (non-reactive). Simmer on the stove top for several hours, until the apples are soft, and the sugar and RedHots are well dissolved. Stir occasionally, ensuring the mixture does not stick.
2)remove the apples (eat them like we did, or mush them up and make Nuclear AppleSauce!), then strain the liquid. Add the pectin and lemon juice, stirring. (I’m told that pectin requires acid to activate…so activate away!)
**to test for pectin before adding the commercial stuff, Amanda says to “add one Tbsp liquid to one Tbsp rubbing alcohol and watch for clumps. Big clumps = lots of pectin, little clumps = not much pectin. Don’t drink this mixture, as it could kill you” in a very uncomfortable manner. It’s useful, though…**
3) begin processing your jars and lids as recommended for safe water-bath canning.
4)bring the liquid/pectin mixture to a boil, skimming foam. Insert your thermometer so that it is constantly submerged (readable) but not resting on the bottom of your pot. Stir the liquid only occasionally and not at all after the temp reaches 210F.
4) after the mixture reaches 220F, test the mixture on a cold plate. If the mixture hardens to jell, you’re good to go. However, I had to wait until my mixture reached 240F for five minutes before mine jelled. This will depend on humidity, altitude, and the amount of pectin in your apples.
reduce heat and continue skimming. (I’ve been told that you can add butter to reduce the foaming, but I’ve never done it…chicken…)
5) after the jar and lids have been boiled appropriately, ladle in your hot liquid through a funnel resting in the tops of the jars to make things easier (less messy). Leave 1/2″ head room. You will have some liquid left over after filling your 6 half-pint jars.
6)wipe the tops of the jars with a damp towel to ensure a clean and complete seal, then top with lids and rings (hand tighten only to ensure gases have a chance to escape during the processing). Process for ten minutes.